STOP FAST TRACK!

OCV joined other Coachella Valley activists to protest Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (or any so-called trade agreements) on Friday, January 31, 2014, the Intercontinental Day of Action.

Recently Senators Harry Reid and Ron Wyden came out in opposition to Fast Track, but we are not out of the woods yet because the real fight is in the House of Representatives and we need to keep pressuring members of Congress until we have a solid 240 representatives in the House committed to opposing Fast Track.

So keep calling as many members of Congress as you can!  See www.stopfasttrack.com for the organizations working to defeat Fast Track, www.flushthetpp.org for more information, and http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/blog/2013/11/22/house-members-speaking-fast-track/ for which representatives are on the “thank” vs. “spank” list.

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Occupy Coachella Valley to Protest Fast Track of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Intercontinental Day of Action

OCV will join other Coachella Valley activists Friday in an Intercontinental Day of Action in solidarity with protesters around the world who are determined to stop the TPP.  The action coincides with the 20-year anniversary of NAFTA and an important conference in Mexico City on NAFTA’s catastrophic impact and tragic economic and social consequences in Mexico, Canada, and the US.

This is an urgent action because the US Congress will vote any moment on Fast-Track legislation that would rush the 12-country (Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam) Trans-Pacific Partnership deal through without any debate or Congress even knowing what is in it!  We are urging every representative in Congress to VOTE NO ON FAST TRACK!

WHEN: Friday, 31 January 2014, 11:00am

WHERE: Intersection of Hwy 111 and Washington, La Quinta 92253

WHAT: Participants will parade over-sized banners around the busiest intersection in the Coachella Valley to make drivers-/passers-by aware of the imminent dangers to all aspects of our lives should the Fast-Track pass and the TPP go through.

WHY:  The pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) expands our currently pro-corporate regime across this hemisphere and the Pacific Ocean.  Leaked texts prove the TPP is a corporate bill of rights of, for, and by corporations and their allies on the US Trade Commission, exclusively, that threatens to:

  • Offshore good-paying jobs to low-wage nations and under-cut working conditions globally
  • Create new tools for attacking environmental and consumer safety policies
  • Undermine global economic stability by deregulating banks, financial markets on Wall Street
  • Grant transnational corporations special authority to challenge countries’ laws, regulations,and court decisions in international tribunals that circumvent domestic judicial systems
  • Institute longer patents that restrict access to affordable, generic medications, thereby driving up the costs of medicine
  • Enact copyright policies that restrict freedom on the Internet
  • Undermine “Buy American” and “Buy Local” government purchasing programs

Similar corporate power grabs have been defeated: The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), the Millennial Round of the World Trade Organization, and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) all died when people stood up and said NO!  There’s no reason we can’t do it again with the TPP.

Please bring (home-made) signs: “NO FAST TRACK!” “STOP the TPP!”  “TPP = GLOBAL CORPORATE RULE!” “NO MORE NAFTAS!”  Bring water, hat, and shades, in case it gets warm.

For information on Fast Track and the TPP, please go to: www.flushthetpp.org , www.stopfasttrack.org  www.stopthetpp.org

Please RSVP at: http://civic.moveon.org/event/moveonaction/140654

Intercontinental Day of Action

Actions protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Fast Track, and global corporate rule will be taking place this week, culminating in an Intercontinental Day of Action on Friday, January 31.  Visit  http://www.tradejustice.ca/tpp/jan31/ and also http://www.flushthetpp.org/ and http://www.stopfasttrack.com/  for more information on actions worldwide.  The Light Brigade will be out in San Diego–see https://mapsengine.google.com/map/u/0/edit?mid=zignUCNQn0qw.k48PQyQtfAm4 and https://www.facebook.com/events/257586751072513/for more information.

Call Congress this week at 202-225-3121 to urge all representatives to vote NO ON FAST TRACK! For a list of who to call go to: http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/blog/2013/11/22/house-members-speaking-fast-track/

“Motherhood by Choice, Not Chance”

This year marks the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade and there will be a Roe v. Wade Anniversary Commemoration at the Tolerance Education Center in Rancho Mirage, CA. Wed, Jan 22nd at 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM. A broad coalition of partners, invites you to celebrate the Roe v. Wade ruling with a Film Screening of “Motherhood by Choice, Not Chance,” directed by Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman. The showing of this important film is sponsored by: ACLU, Democratic Women of the Desert, Democrats of the Desert, Equality CA, Occupy Coachella Valley, Palm Springs NOW (National Organization For Women), Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, Stonewall Democrats, and Veterans for Peace. If you have an organization that may wish to sponsor, have your board approve it, then notify OCV (we will pass it along to the key organizers) Please use this link to RSVP so they have a sense of how many to plan for.

Sign up for movie: “Motherhood by Choice, not Chance” at:

http://www.ppaction.org/site/Calendar?id=109461&view=Detail.  

See flier roe_v_wade1

Martin Luther King Day Honors Mr. Joseph Beaver

Sunday – January 19, 2014 – 2 pm

Church of St. Paul’s of the Desert-Episcopal

125 W El Alameda-Palm Springs will host A Birthday Celebration (91st) for Joe Beaver, Chairman MLK Commemoration Committee

There will be speakers, music and refreshments and the public is invited!

Mr. Joseph Beaver

An Open Letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein

I am extremely disappointed by your response to my email urging you to oppose both the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement and Fast Track.

You said that you “…carefully review each free trade agreement that comes before [you] to ensure that the best interests of American workers and businesses are served,” but my understanding is that the TPP has not come before you to review; the only reason either of us knows anything about the contents of the TPP is that five of its 29 chapters were leaked.  Senator Ron Wyden, Chair of the Subcommittee on International Trade, was denied access to any of the drafts of the TPP text.  After introducing legislation to force the issue, he finally got access but his staff experts did not and he was forbidden to reveal what he’d read.  To my knowledge, contrary to the 2002 law requiring the Administration to share trade documents with all members of Congress, only Representative Alan Grayson and a small number of other members of Congress have been allowed access to it and they, too, had to swear to keep its contents secret.

The TPP was written behind tightly-locked doors by corporations for the sole purpose of increasing their profits.   If it were true that you have reviewed the TPP, you, as a representative of the people and defender of the Constitution, would have to oppose it, since clearly it would adversely impact “the U.S. economy, human rights, labor rights, and environmental standards” and much more: it would negatively affect, if not destroy, our legal system, (the remains of) our non-profit penal system, banking regulations, “buy American” practices, the job market, wages, efforts to decrease the income gap,1 public services, our non-privatized social safety net, consumer standards, our should-be-single-payer-healthcare-for-all system, medicine, food safety, intellectual property, our efforts toward peace, equal rights for women2, our quality of life, our very democracy, and the habitability of Mother Earth Herself.  I believe that the only reason you still support the TPP is that you are a staunch corporatist who values profits over people.  [By the way:  1 You are among the wealthiest elected officials in DC, aren’t you?   2 How much longer do women have to be taken for granted as second-class citizens?!  Why aren’t you pushing for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment?]

Multi-national corporations have long sought to successfully sue countries for lost future profits, and this is precisely what they would achieve through provisions in the TPP.  So, when you said that you will “ensure that trade negotiations are conducted in the best interests of the American worker and U.S. industry” (which sounds a lot like your job description), it is not what you actually do.  It’s much closer to the truth, Senator, to admit you will continue to ensure corporate interests, as they are ultimately the same as your own.  If it were true that you have been in on the negotiations, it would not have been as an Executive Branch Trade Representative or a representative of one of the five non-corporate Delegates; it could only have been as a corporate stakeholder on behalf of one of the 600 corporations participating in composing and negotiating the TPP.  That Congress does not consider it a ‘conflict of interest’ to vote on corporate-related legislation while financially benefitting from it personally (essentially, lobbying for them) is an enormous outrage!  It’s only common sense that in such situations, for all three branches of government, recusal should/would be de rigueur.

It has been well over a year since, as an independent stakeholder on behalf of Mother Earth, I went to the round of Negotiations in San Diego.  I had a 10-minute tete-a-tete with Barbara Weisel, US Chief Negotiator, during which she adamantly denied each and every point I made.  For example:  given the unfortunate tradition of previous free trade agreements, I asserted that “jobs would be outsourced.”  “That’s not true,” she contended.   I also informed her that Sen Wyden had just informed the media that he had been denied access to the TPP.  “That’s not true,” she retorted.  “He [had] never asked to see it.  If he had, I would have personally delivered a copy to him.”  Essentially, she had been accusing me repeatedly of lying; but I was more shocked when, in so many words, she called Senator Wyden a liar!

After that very troubling, absurd, and unproductive exchange with the US Chief Negotiator, I sent you and Senator Boxer a request for current drafts of the TPP text.  I knew that neither of you had seen anything as yet, other than what had been leaked; but I wanted you to know that the public was not uniformly ignorant about and/or disinterested in the insidious effort, ongoing, to legitimize a global corporatocracy* by means of yet another, far worse “free” trade agreement.

When you said that you “do not believe that… past trade agreements have resulted in any loss of U.S. political independence or sovereignty,” I wondered why you would believe otherwise, since your job has not been outsourced, your retirement stash has been growing steadily, you have not been foreclosed upon, and you have not suffered from US war-mongering, inter alia.   The public is well aware, even if you are not, of the drastic consequences of NAFTA.  So, please Senator, for the sake of millions of Americans who have suffered enormously from its consequences, please do not repeat that [NAFTA] hasn’t “resulted in any loss of U.S… independence or sovereignty.”

As for the “Fast Track” that expired on 05.01.07: our Constitution specifically empowers Congress with trade authority to regulate commerce and legislate trade agreements.  It is absolutely not the constitutional responsibility of Congress to “[provide] the President with Trade Promotion Authority,” or to cede any other constitutionally-mandated powers and duties that we pay Congress to perform!  Frankly, Senator, I am horrified by your cavalier disrespect and/or blatant disregard for, and/or gross misunderstanding of the U.S. Constitution and the Legislative branch provisions therein in particular!

Once again, I urge you to oppose Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement.  And I would appreciate your demanding that the Administration make a copy of or a link to the current draft of the TPP FTA available to you, and that you will, in turn, make it available to me and the general public.  As a politically progressive activist, I will do everything I can to thwart a global fascist corporatocracy* and to protect Mother Earth.  Only through robust oversight and public participation can we forge a new national and global consensus on FAIR trade policy that works for all.

Carolyn E. Krause, Occupier

* an economic and political system controlled by corporations or corporate interests that put profit of the corporate elite over the productivity and needs of people or the preservation of the environment and sustainability.  It is in stark contrast to a socialist economic system which is based on cooperative management of the economy and the production of goods and services to directly satisfy economic demand and human needs and where objects are valued based on their utility

“Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” – Benito Mussolini

TPP Shackles We the People & Democracy

TPP Action3 12-3-13In an action depicting corporate global rule symbolized by a corporate “king” twirling the world around on a string with one hand and dragging behind a jailed “We the People” and “democracy,” followed by a funereal procession of mourners dressed in black singing a TPP dirge and holding tombstones decrying the death of democracy, jobs, clean air, clean water, education, Internet freedom, medicine, and free speech.  Participants in the action spoke to passersby and handed out TPP information fliers in order to educate the public about this serious worldwide threat to the 99% and everything we hold dear.

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 CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS AND INSIST THAT THEY OPPOSE FAST TRACK OF THE TPP, THE DEATH OF DEMOCRACY!!

BREAKING NEWS: LEAKED TPP DOCS!

This morning Wikileaks leaked the Intellectual Property Rights Chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership today, which revealed that the secretive  agreement will negatively affect Internet freedom, copyright law, biological patents, access to medicine, and civil liberties.

Please view the documents here: Wikileaks-secret-TPP-treaty-IP-chapter              and spread the word!

Analysis of the TPP intellectual property chapter on access to medicines:
MSF/Doctors Without Borders’ Release and Memo on How the Trans-Pacific FTA Undermines Access to Medicines

Public Citizen’s Memo on Obama Administration Backtracking from Bush Era Access to Medicine Commitments

MSF/Doctors Without Borders’ White Paper “Trading Away Health”

Public Citizen’s Access to Medicine Analyses Comparing TPP Proposals with Existing Laws and Trade Pacts

The Global Treatment Access Group Paper on the TPP and Access to Medicines

For analysis of the updated TPP intellectual property chapter see:
Public Citizen Memo “What’s New in the Wikileaks TPP Text?”

End Corporate Rule & Legalize Democracy!!

OCV Marches with VFP in Gay Pride Parade

Members of Occupy Coachella Valley joined Veterans for Peace in the Gay Pride Parade on Sunday, November 3, 2013 in Palm Springs, California, carrying signs “Free Chelsea Manning,” rainbow flags and a rainbow Occupy Coachella Valley banner, and chanting “We are the 99%,” “YOU are the 99%,” and “Free Bradley Manning, now Chelsea Manning” while flashing peace signs to the crowd who occasionally joined in the chanting.

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As Occupiers went by, announcers mentioned that OCV has been working on illegal foreclosure, stopping the TPP, and protesting the Sentinel power plant and announced our website.  Check out the picture of the parade on the Desert Sun at:   Pride Parade 2013

Day of the Dead Altar Competition

The Comite Latino has built altars dedicated to the immigrants who have died, and who are still dying at the rate of two every day, trying to cross the border. And the more the U.S. fortifies the border, more will die, as they are forced to try to cross in more and more remote and desolate areas. The first display was Tuesday, October 29 at the College of the Desert. They won second prize in the Altar competition, with the C.O.D. chapter of MECHA taking first prize (see below). Many of these pictures are really horrific – bodies found in the desert. This is the human suffering that the seemingly clean and nice goal of “securing the border” has brought to many thousands of immigrants and their families.

On Wednesday, they put up an altar at Desert Mirage High School in Mecca, where many students viewed the exhibit. Friday, November 1, they put up an altar at Raices, a youth group in Coachella, beginning at 5 pm. Their office is on sixth street across from city hall. On Saturday and Sunday an altar will be on display at the Catholic Church in Mecca, and on Sunday at the Catholic churches in Coachella and Desert Hot Springs. We urge you all to go and see one of these altars. The pictures are unforgettable and a call to action. This is a human rights crisis that is ongoing right here in our own back yard.
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Energy Summit 2013 Palm Springs: An Occupy Perspective

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In what looked to be an obvious subterfuge to appear eco-friendly and whitewash the image of polluters like the Sentinel, the Summit promoters had invited Daryl Hannah to be a keynote speaker as she is a known environmental activist opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline, a member of the World Future Council, the founder of the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, and sits on the boards of Mission Blue, Environmental Media Association, and Action Sports Environmental Coalition. Her activism is nothing new to those of us concerned about environmental and social issues.  An interesting side note is that one of our occupiers marched with her in 1992 to try to stop the war in El Salvador.  The march took place in Los Angeles from Pershing Square to City Hall and Hannah took his young daughter backstage to meet Jackson Browne and Kris Kristofferson who were performing at the protest rally.

The Palm Springs Life magazine article/interview prior to the event stated that the conference was about “the future of energy policy, advances in green building, innovative technologies, and the role of natural gas and bio fuels,” and quoted Hannah as saying that “we need to focus on sustainable energy sources,” that she remarked that agriculture has “the potential to be as big a part of the solution as energy does,” and that she stated that tends to focus much of her work now on energy issues as “energy is something that touches everybody,” explaining that we are “poisoning our life-support systems – water, air and soil – through our inefficient energy-sourcing methods.”  See:  http://www.palmspringslife.com/Palm-Springs-Life/October-2013/Daryls-Web/

The Summit was reported by the Desert Sun as about “renewable energy” (See:  http://www.mydesert.com/article/20131004/BUSINESS0302/309300041/Southern-California-Energy-Summit-focuses-valley-s-role-renewable-energy?nclick_check=1 and there was some information about solar, etc. but there was also prominent presence of big polluters like Southern California Edison and CPV Sentinel, sponsors of the event. 

OCV and People Over Pollution protest the fossil fuel industry in general and specifically CPV Sentinel Power Plant as it is a major polluter and poses a grave threat to health in our local area. The plant is NOT within state guidelines for emissions and is NOT being overseen and monitored by the CEC & SCAQMD.  In addition, the Mission Springs Water District Board of Directors has been unwilling to press the Sentinel to install modern technology to cool the turbines & clean the smokestacks.  In an effort to protect their investors rather than the public, Sentinel’s owners have not revealed the truth regarding the hazard it poses to people’s health.

The newly constructed 850 MW natural gas peaker plant, CPV Sentinel, is a platinum sponsor of the Energy Summit. This plant is the largest of its kind in the world and will dump ONE MILLION TONS of CO2 a year for 30 years in our mountain-ringed valley!  It will spew 112,000 pounds of PM2.5, a deadly metallic particle formed by combining ammonia and water (our drinking water) to the burnt fuel.  This material (1/30 the size of human hair) has been proven to cause cancer, heart disease, and lung disease, according to the EPA.

photo 1In stark contrast to Hannah, other Keynote speakers at the Summit were from the California Energy Commission (who licensed the plant and excused it from an Environmental Impact Report) and the California Independent Systems Operator who purchases the power from Sentinel and will not tell us how many hours the plant is operating. Last year we presented the Energy Summit keynote speaker, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, with 2,000 signatures of valley residents against the plant going on line but never heard back from him.  We at OCV and POP had planned to protest the pollution of the Coachella Valley by the Sentinel plant again this year at the Summit, and knowing Hannah to be an ally, contacted her in order to make her aware of why we would be demonstrating at the Palm Springs Energy Summit.  She responded positively to our overture.

During her talk, occupiers inside the convention center reported that Hannah referred several times to the “dedicated people out front” (meaning Occupy and POP) who are concerned about the environment, that she said that we should try to make the world a place where we could all live, not pollute, and that if it turns out that the Sentinel plant is not living up to the EPA standards that it should be shut down.  It was observed that 6 or 8 people would applaud when she made these remarks, but that many in the audience were unenthusiastic, likely disconcerted by her unwillingness to go along with the sponsors’/promoters’ attempts to mislead the public/whitewash the image of the polluters in question.  One person in fact was overheard to sarcastically comment, “I wonder when her plane leaves!”  Kids were seen wearing Sentinel shirts in the various booths and when informed by Occupiers about the Sentinel, were shocked to learn that it is a big polluter, as they had clearly been led to believe it was environmentally friendly.

Specifically, Daryl Hannah covered the following points we had asked her to mention:

  • People have a right to clean air and water.
  • Communities have a right to be involved in the decision process when their air and water are at stake.
  • Representatives should listen to the people they represent.  Newly elected Congressman Raul Ruiz was also scheduled to be a Keynote speaker but cancelled due to the government shutdown.
  • Residential Rooftop Solar (DG) is far superior and should have first consideration vs. Big Solar and fossil fuel plants.
  • The regulatory agency charged with protecting our air, South Coast Air Quality Management District (also a sponsor of this Summit) should respond to the will of the people and place high quality air quality monitors where they are needed: one in Desert Hot Springs, one near the Salton Sea, and one in between.  They have been repeatedly asked to do so, and have not responded.  These monitors would show the air quality on an hourly basis and be accessible by the public.

photo (2)The protest was filmed by mainstream media who interviewed some of the protesters, but reports were predictably lacking in any critical assessment of the Sentinel’s impact, appearing to buy into the corporate public relations tactics.  It was a success regardless, largely due to Hannah’s integrity.  It is clear that she not only cares about the environment but is a down-to-earth and warmly personable woman as well, even hugging one of our members when he identified himself as the person who called her about the Summit action. We are very thankful to Daryl Hannah for standing up for the people of the Coachella Valley alongside People Over Pollution and Occupy Coachella Valley, instead of being a tool of the corporate polluters, and helping us make this protest a success!

DRAW the LINE on CPV SENTINEL: JOIN THE FIGHT TO END THE WAR ON MOTHER NATURE

This Saturday, 09.21.13, is the International Day of Peace as well as the national day of action called “Draw the Line on Keystone XL Pipeline” organized by 350.org and Friends of the Earth.  Our local event focuses on our ongoing battle with the mega-multinational corporate war-mongers who are determined to make huge profits with their CPV Sentinel fossil fuel-/natural gas-burning power plant.  Sentinel is the delivery system of weapons of mass destruction as lethal as any the US military still hopes to use against Syria, but they are in the form of chemical pollutants, tons of them, aimed insidiously, relentlessly at us, here in the Coachella Valley, every day.  Presenters will speak on CPV Sentinel’s deadly impact on the air we breathe, the water we drink, our farmland, thus the food we eat. 

 RSVP @:

http://civic.moveon.org/event/moveonaction/139953 and/or

http://act.350.org/event/draw_the_line/6225/signup/?akid=&zip=92253

WHAT:  DRAW the LINE on CPV SENTINEL – JOIN the FIGHT to END the   WAR on MOTHER NATURE

WHEN:  SATURDAY, 09.21.13

TIME:    12:00 NOON

WHERE:   The Marilyn Statue Park, Palm Canyon @ Tahquitz Canyon, downtown Palm Springs 92262

BRING:  Signs, Banners, Costumes, Props, Parasols, Water, Friends, Energy, Camaraderie

No War in Syria Action a Success!

Peace Activists and Occupy Coachella Valley gathered in Palm Springs to make a statement in opposition to any military strike on Syria, occupying all four street corners at Tahquitz and Palm Canyon Drive with the message “NO WAR IN SYRIA!,” displaying peace signs, and urging Congressman Ruiz to vote for peace and jobs, not bombs.

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We are very heartened by the pullback from war by the White House and the decision to allow Congress to vote on any military strike, due only to public outcry and the urging of other countries such as Russia. Like him or hate him, Putin’s eloquent op ed on the situation in Syria hits home because it truthfully sums the situation up so well (see http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/12/politics/syria-putin-analysis/index.html)

Obama’s statement that he is going to pursue diplomacy first is a win for peace, though his reserving military intervention as a fallback plan, particularly whether or not Congress approves, is cause for grave concern.  This is especially true in light of Obama’s continued executive overreach.  We are, as they say, not out of the woods yet, but rejoice that sanity and good sense have won out for now over foolhardy plans to use force in an area that needs a peaceful solution so desperately as war-torn Syria.  Hopefully Americans’ war weariness will eventually lead to a dismantling of the war machine and an end to empire. http://www.popularresistance.org/can-peace-movement-end-us-empire/

Foreclosure Crisis 2013: Myths, Realities, Solutions, and Retributions

The new myth being spread by Wall Street and MSM is that the foreclosure crisis is over.  The reality is that the housing bubble has been re-inflated because the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve have chosen to continue a backdoor bank bailout through a quantitative easing strategy that essentially gives banks $40 billion per month of interest-free loans.  As a result, home prices have risen temporarily, creating the illusion that fewer mortgages are “underwater”.   However, the structural weaknesses in the housing market that were detailed in the Aequitas Foreclosure Report of 2012 persist.  This report, commissioned by the Recorder-Assessor of San Francisco, reviewed 382 California foreclosures, focusing on irregularities in six areas:

1) Assignments

2) Notice of Default

3) Substitution of Trustee

4) Suspicious activity indicative of potential fraud

5) Notice of Trustee Sale

6) Conflicts relating to MERS (a system designed to hide the chain of  title)

The report concluded that there were irregularities in 99% of the foreclosures, 84% clear violations of the law and 32% where four or more discrepancies in the six audit areas existed.

Cities around the country are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.  It began thirty years ago when the ultra-rich and corporations decided that they would no longer shoulder their share of taxation.  Their contribution to federal tax revenues plunged from 35% to 12% in that time.  The burden shifted to wage earners and small businesses who had to make up the shortfall by increased taxation.  The Federal government then began withholding a portion of the funding they returned to the states, the states to the counties, and the counties to the cities.  The cash-strapped cities could ease their revenue crunch only by raising municipal taxes, which in poorer areas, was impractical.  Then came the Great Recession of 2008, and property tax revenues plummeted with home values and the foreclosure crisis.  Foreclosure has significant negative impact on the cities in which it occurs.  Crime rises, homelessness increases, neighborhoods deteriorate, families and children experience stress.  Each foreclosure costs the city where it occurs approximately $19,000.  In a medium-size city, hard-hit by 300 or more annual foreclosures, this can mean bankruptcy.

The market has changed, but the criminal behavior of the financial sector has not.  The buyers in this new bubble are not first-time buyers or even individuals.  They are instead, large buyer pools scooping up thousands of foreclosures at once.  They are, in fact, the same financial institutions that caused the initial crisis, creating the same fraudulent instruments to dump on unsuspecting or complicit pension funds. The Obama administration and Congress have instituted no meaningful reforms; Dodd-Frank is weak legislation that worsens the situation; and Chris Dodd is now a lobbyist for the banking industry.  The expected result:  The housing market will collapse again, within two years.

So, if homeowners can expect no help from elected officials, where do we turn?  The answer comes from an unexpected source:  Occupy Wall Street.  Occupy Coachella Valley worked with the City of Coachella to pass a mortgage crisis resolution in March of 2012 that recognizes the extent of the problem and the role Occupy has had in holding banks accountable (see Coachella Valley Foreclosure Resolution). OWS has proposed meaningful reform on foreclosure since its inception, having worked with ACCE and Home Defenders, non-profits dedicated to helping prevent foreclosure, and now various Occupy groups across the country have adopted a new strategy in the past year by adopting the findings of Robert Hockett, a Cornell law school professor, who argues that using eminent domain authority as a valid means to help homeowners facing foreclosure and cities facing bankruptcy.  See: http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/spotlights/Hockett-Reveals-Plan-to-Address-Underwater-Mortgage-Loans.cfm

Hockett states that the foreclosure crisis was “the culmination of a decades-long credit-fueled asset price” residential real estate bubble.  He notes the recent temporary improvement of the real estate market, but states that “a current shadow inventory” of “between 7.4 and 9.4 million home loans are at serious risk of default in the coming six years.  That is an impending foreclosure tsunami of . . . unprecedented proportion.”  His solution: municipalities or authorities (Joint Powers Authorities) pay the banks fair market value which is considered just compensation under applicable California law.  They can then repackage the purchased property and offer it back to the foreclosed family at a greatly reduced principal.  The only downside of the plan is that they intend to use a private equity firm, Mortgage Resolution Partners, which will charge a large handling fee ($30,000) and initially refinance only rock-solid borrowers.  Occupy Coachella Valley offers a variation that raises the funding necessary to purchase the foreclosed homes at fair market value by offering municipal bonds to create an investment pool.

The first cities to consider the Hockett Plan were Ontario and Fontana, in Southern California.  They formed a Joint Powers Authority to explore the eminent domain solution.  They were immediately threatened by the banking lobby with lawsuits and “redlining”.  The bankers said they would refuse to provide mortgage lending and bond issues in any city that adopted the Hockett Plan.  Fontana and Ontario were intimidated, and backed away from the plan.  Other Occupy groups, including Occupy Coachella Valley, have introduced variations of the plan to cities in the Coachella Valley, with varying degrees of acceptance.  But recently, spurred on by the work of Occupy, ACCE, and Home Defenders League, Richmond, California in the San Francisco Bay area has moved aggressively to implement eminent domain strategies to reduce principal. The name of the program is Richmond CARES (Community Action to Restore Equity and Stability) to fix troubled underwater loans in order to “keep more families in their homes, prevent more community blight and home value loss, and give a boost to our local economy.” Predictably, the banking industry has reacted with threats of litigation and illegal red-lining.  See http://www.homedefendersleague.org/stand_with_richmond_ca and www.SaveRichmondHomes.org for more information.

This type of threat is illegal, but rather than take action against the banks, the Obama administration has joined in the attack against homeowners.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency, the agency that regulates Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, has joined Wells Fargo, Deutsche Bank, Bank of New York Mellon, Pacific Investment, Black Rock, Inc., and Doubleline Capital in suing the city of Richmond.  This capitulation of the Obama administration of its duty to protect citizens and complicity with the banks who are operating illegally will guarantee another collapse of the real estate market in the near future, and an even greater second round of foreclosures and the misery that they bring.

It is uncertain whether or not Richmond can hold out against the flood of nuisance lawsuits the banksters will launch against the city.  We sincerely hope that they do.  It is imperative that the public demand that the Obama administration make good on campaign promises and end its callous and unconscionable support of the illegal foreclosure tactics of the financial sector and send these banksters to jail, rather than inviting them to the next fundraising dinner at the White House.  Regardless, Occupy Coachella Valley will continue its campaign to encourage local cities to adopt the Hockett Plan. Occupy Our Homes!!

50th Year Anniversary of the March on Washington Rally a Success

OCV joined with other local groups in a rally to honor the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  There were over 60 attendees at Frances Stevens Park at the corner of Alejo and Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs.

Civil Rights March Rally  8.25.13 - #1

Civil Rights March Rally  8.25.13 - #2

Rally for Peace and Justice

Please join Occupy Palm Springs this Saturday, August 24th, at Frances Stevens Park, by the fountain at Alejo and Palm Canyon, 10:00am-11:00am to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the MARCH ON WASHINGTON FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963.  We will gather in solidarity with those who will participate in another MARCH ON WASHINGTON, 50 years after the turning point demonstration of the Civil Rights Movement, led by: Martin L. King, III & National Action Network, in partnership w/APRI, NAACP, SCLC, NUL, NCNW, NCBCP, and the King Center and the opening of a four-day Global Freedom Festival.

Dr Martin Luther King believed that human needs, racial equality, and justice would never be attained unless we challenged militarism and its impact on the peoples of the world and in our communities.

Please bring drinking water and wear a hat or bring a parasol.  And don’t forget your SIGNS, based on messages as outlined above or MLK quotes.

For more information on all the activities scheduled to commemorate this historic event, go to:

http://www.thekingcenter.org/news/2013-08-excitement-builds-commemoration-50th-anniversary-march-washington-mlk-s-i-have-dream